Adds color and animation to a familiar but faded photograph.




The French and Indian War (1754–63) established British dominance over France in North America but sowed sufficient local discontent that some colonists began to think the unthinkable: revolution.

Borneman’s third venture into popular history (1812: The War That Forged a Nation, 2004, etc.), like its predecessors, evinces much reading and a thorough understanding of the people, the places (many of which he visited) and the events. Evident, too, is a sort of narrative ebullience often lacking from more academic accounts (Borneman is a fan of the exclamation mark). And very helpful, indeed, are the many maps distributed throughout, plus a chronology and annotated cast of characters. The author begins in 1748 with a status report: England, France and Spain are competitors in North America; conflict is inevitable. Borneman argues that the English strategy (building settlements, encouraging immigration) was superior to the French (claiming territory, doing little to secure it), but it took nine years of bloodshed, here and elsewhere, to resolve it. (He notes that the conflict could have been called World War I.) Borneman is at his best elucidating battle strategies (especially the pivotal encounter at Quebec) and bringing to life the personalities of some of those famous names—Washington, Montcalm, Wolfe, Howe, Braddock, Pontiac and others who strode that particular stage. He spends considerable time with the famed Robert Rogers (and his fabled rangers), giving credit where it’s due but also peeling away layers of legend and chronicling the man’s weaknesses. The author also gives much (deserved) attention to the ambitious William Pitt, who recognized more than any other the significance of what was happening across the Atlantic. Like many other accounts, though, Borneman focuses on the English participants. We don’t learn enough about what the French were doing and thinking; he doesn’t tell us enough about the culture of the various Indian nations involved, though he does offer some sobering details about Indian unpredictability and martial ferocity.

Adds color and animation to a familiar but faded photograph.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-076184-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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